Understanding Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

By Thomas Derrick | Go to book overview

5
Teaching Julius Caesar

JULIUS CAESAR GOES TO SCHOOL

Shakespeare's foremost Roman play has often been taught because of its supposed "safety." Compared to the bloodbath of Titus Andronicus and the austerity of Coriolanus, Caesar offers both the thrill of violence and the appeal to honor, both presented heroically. Antony and Cleopatra is a possible rival, though its sensuality resembles the sexual frankness of Romeo and Juliet, and thus it is not often considered suitable for adolescents.

When we ask why Julius Caesar is recommendable on its own merits as an early experience in Shakespeare's drama, teachers can review the answers from recent cultural history and proceed to justify these former values according to current needs and social conditions.


MCGUFFEY'S CAESAR

Classics teacher William Holmes McGuffey ( 1800-1873) included two passages from Julius Caesar in the last edition of his popular readers for American schoolchildren. The selections from Shakespeare fit right into a strong program for moral improvement, presenting, for example, Michael Cassio's lament about his lost reputation ( Othello 2.3.262-65) under the heading "The Folly of Intoxication" McGuffey selected "The Quarrel of Brutus and Cassius" ( Julius Caesar 4.3-1-123) without directly commenting on the

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Understanding Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Interpreting Julius Caesar 1
  • 2 - Caesar on the Elizabethan Stage 25
  • 3 - Elizabethan Legacies 43
  • 4 - Julius Caesar and the Lincoln Assassination 107
  • 5 - Teaching Julius Caesar 133
  • 6 - Julius Caesar: Popular Culture and High Art 195
  • Index 239
  • About the Author *
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